There is not a day that goes by - 7 days every single week of my life - that I am not asked about my illness. I am asked about various aspects of healing. I am asked about making a full recovery...if that is even possible. . I am asked about the methodology that I have followed clinically to heal. I am asked 'How can I heal'? I am asked question after question by parents, kids, fellow chronic illness suffers, bloggers, writers, editors, publishers, etc. .I am even asked by physicians about healing. I am asked 'Should you just manage your illness or should you take every ounce of focus you have and aim for a full recovery'?
My answer? I don't know. I just don't know. It's so complex.
And I look at these people's faces who are desperate for hope and I don't have any idea what to say. I find myself praying for words from God....all of the time. Sure, I know how to give hope. We can all muster words of hope. I am the type of person who isn't into 'false hope' though. I am a realist. My mind is very 'literal' yet I am a visionary as well. Yes, I love to encourage others by the nature of how God made me. But I don't have a clue what steps they should take to get from A to Z of healing. It's trial and error. And it can feel like an endless abyss. With chronic illness, when you are in the 'thick of it', it can look and feel like a complete mess. Let's just throw that on the deck: It's messy and can feel like you are wandering in total darkness at times. So, I just encourage them to surrender to God. It's about the best advice I can give....now. I am not 'on the other side' of it all.
As one of my Pastor's - Jackson - would say 'Let's unpack this':
In my journey through healing from chronic illness, I wrestle with if I should just accept that I have severe autonomic dysfunction, try to find a medial protocol that makes me as functional (and comfortable) as possible and live my life in a limited fashion vs. throwing everything I have into a full recovery that may or may not happen. Note: Beth, if you are reading, I know that was a run on sentence. We need more of you to teach us proper grammar in this world.
This opens Pandora's Box of questions, discussions, hypothetical's, perspectives, etc. And I personally enjoy wrestling w/ God about it. I also enjoy getting into healthy discussions with those that are clued into what autonomic dysfunction actually means. I love taking all of these questions to Him and hearing what He has to say. In other words, I open His Word (aka The Bible).
And this is the conclusion that I have come to after several years of the hills & valleys of suffering with chronic illness:
First off, I know that God uses suffering for our good. I know this. It's all over the Bible - open yours and read about it or reach out to me and we can talk about it together. The key is opening The Word b/c there in lies the answers. Most of the things we pray for? He has already answered in that book....called The Bible. So, when someone is giving me advice about my health, I open up scripture.
Suffering produces fruit like nothing else can. What do I mean? Suffering refines you, challenges you, teaches you perseverance & endurance & strength. I mean real 'strength'! .
Suffering......oh my goodness.........suffering takes you to the brink and leaves you there ...sometimes for quite a long time. Anyone who suffers with anything 'chronic', you know exactly what I am talking about. I mean, you are just - hanging - there. You are hanging ON with white knuckles, sweat dripping down your nose and tears streaming down your face. And do you know who you're reaching for at this point? You are reaching for GOD.
Think about the people who are healthy and experience an 'acute' crisis in life (a broken bone - divorce - job loss - a devastating breakup). These people may not know God well at all. They do not walk through life with Him or read their Bibles but, come that time, those minutes or hours and you'll find so many of these folks praying like mad. Stick w/ me here....
These folks are on their knees saying 'God, please HELP ME'. I know this because these people come to me all of the time in these situations. Please pray for my sister, mom, dad, aunt, uncle, friend....whoever....please pray! And these are people who do not even 'know' Him. They think Christianity is about how well they behave in life and it's NOT EVEN ABOUT US....it's about HIM! They don't have a relationship w/ Him so they don't even understand what I am talkin' about.
You know how else I know this? I used to be one of them. I was one of them. So no judgement - only empathy. Oh man, I was one of them. I lived my life - thinking I was in control of everything (emphasis on 'everything') and yet, when I had back surgery in 2008, right before going under anesthesia, I was praying to God 'Please be with me'. But catch me post-surgery -running a half marathon in Chicago - and I didn't think much about God at all. I only reached out to Him at that next 'tough event' in my life. I was so so so lost and didn't even know it.
When you are suffering or someone we love is suffering, that seems to be the time when people draw near to God most.
Secondly, I am not into prosperity gospel at all. You know, Joel Osteen's camp. I am just not. It's so misleading and I think it's why so many people that I personally know live in such confusion as to why their loved ones are suffering, passed away or why they are not further along in their own healing. It's just my opinion but, a lot of you have asked for it so, I am sharing it. Prosperity gospel and prosperity thinking will - in the end - lead you right back to the place you started. I feel safe promising that.
What I believe is that God is in control of everything. If you are suffering, God doesn't just go on a holiday. He is there. He is with you. He KNOWS what is happening. And if He is allowing it, then there is a REASON. And who knows what that reason is....only HE knows!
Should someone accept their illness and not shoot for a full recovery? I don't know. I get an ache in my heart when I am asked this b/c i wish I had that answer. I am personally a fighter. I have an athletic background & an athletic mindset. My entire background has been one where I go for it - I shoot for the top. It's served me well through illness but, it's also hindered me in the areas of 'acceptance' and 'patience'. Working on both. So I shoot for a full recovery but, it close to destroys my quality of life. And only those 'in it' - walking through illness' know what I mean. Others may think they know but they do not know. I honestly do not know the answer to the question. It's so tough. And it's SO easy for onlookers to have all of the answers. If I had to give my opinion, it would be to fight like hell at all costs...to get fully well. Why not. I mean, go for it. It feels like a trap sometimes but, so what....'just do it'.
You know who knows the EXACT RIGHT answer? God does. Go to Him first before coming to me or anyone else. And you'll then know what to do. And if you don't know even after going to Him? Just leap - jump - choose a path and RUN - and His Will will catch you (Jennie Allen said that and I loved it). If it is the wrong path, you'll know and try another.
The bottom line is I do not talk about my illness or recovery 'yet' on my blog b/c I do not have the answers that I know would satisfy the appetites of people. People want to know what to do. They are very literally desperate. And they HATE when I say 'Go to God' but, they forget that I am one of them. And that I too want all of the answers. And they forget that I am suffering as well.
The answer - the 'core' answer to all of these questions - is one we each have to reconcile with and reconciling w/ Him looks vastly different for each of us.
Do you know what the bottom line answer is?
I believe the answer is one word. One simple - difficult - complex - painful - joyful - word. The answer is 'Surrender'.
Created and curated by Kelly, Snapshots of Wellness encourages all of you to cultivate your 'joie de vivre': Compassion for Animals via food, style & lifestyle.